Attorney writes Barbados PM on new immigration policyWednesday, March 09, 2016
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Attorney and social activist David Comissiong has written to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart calling on him to outline the reasons for introducing new immigration policies that would have Barbadians fingerprinted when leaving and entering the island from April 1 this year.
In the letter, Comissiong said that he had also written to the Minister Responsible for Immigration Darcy Boyce and the former Chief Immigration Officer Erine Griffith on the issue but to date has received no response.
In his letter, which was made available to the media, Comissiong said that he had informed that the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulations 2015 were made by Prime Minister Stuart in his capacity as Minister Responsible for Immigration.
“Apparently, you made these regulations virtually in secret by merely publishing them in a Supplement to the Official Gazette of 23rd April 2015 – an arcane document that 99.9 per cent of the Barbados population does not come into contact with,” Comissiong wrote.
He said that the move ensured “that there was absolutely no publicity about or discussion of these Regulations before or at the time they were being made”.
“Surely – in a supposedly free and democratic country – this is not good enough,” he wrote, adding that “as you are only too well aware, in Barbados, the practice of fingerprinting persons is associated with the procedure that persons charged with a criminal offense are required to undergo.
“Since it has now become clear that this decision to require citizens of Barbados – like myself – to be subjected to fingerprinting when they travel from or to their own country was made by you. I would like to inform you that I consider said decision to be a decision that affects me adversely.”
Comissiong said he was requesting that the prime minister “provide me with a written statement of your reasons for making such a decision!
“Please provide me with a clear written explanation as to why you consider it necessary or appropriate that I, a Barbados citizen, should be fingerprinted when I leave Barbados, and also, when I attempt to return to Barbados.
“Please treat this as an urgent matter, and – in keeping with the terms of the Administrative Justice Act of Barbados – kindly provide me with your written statement of reasons for your decision within a reasonable time,” he wrote.
Last month, former attorney general Dale Marshall questioned the wisdom in having Barbadian nationals leaving or returning to the country be subjected to being finger printed.
Marshall said that the new measure was a “mindless adherence to international dictates”.
Griffith said the new measure would be followed later in the year, with one to facially scan passengers.
She said the only exemptions to these regulations will be holders of diplomatic passports and children under the age of 16.
Barbados said these security measures will bring Barbados in line with international ports of entry, and were mandatory under the Immigration (Biometrics) Regulation 2015.
Griffith urged visitors to co-operate with the Immigration Department, saying it is seeking to ensure the safety of all who used Barbados’s ports of entry.
But Marshall, who served as attorney general in a former Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Administration, said that Barbadians were “entitled” to return to their homeland unencumbered.
“So to make his/her entry into Barbados conditional in anyway upon giving up any biometric data is an infringement of that person’s constitutional rights,” he said, warning that the new measure is “illegal and a technical absurdity”.